An American Expatriate Establishes her Fashion Universe in Milan

by Elysian Magazine

La Double J

Not too long ago, American expatriate J. J. Martin found herself on her own in Milan, freshly divorced, without much money, and determined the home of her dreams awaited her in a market where no real estate was, or would in the foreseeable future become available. Rather than move on, she determined to realize her dream and came up with her very own solution: going from door to door and personally pleading with the doormen to tell her of any flat that might come available before hungry real estate agents descended upon them like a vulture on roadkill.

“No, no, signora,” was the sorry reply she got, time and again—until she came to the very last apartment building. The doorman’s friend had, just an instant before, texted him to say an apartment on the most beautiful street in all Milan was going on the market.

“Vai! Vai! Go now!” he cried and J.J. did just that. Two days later, she was the owner of a third-floor apartment in a magnificent 1910 building that featured a magnificent, frescoed entryway, original marble intarsia floors, 15-foot ceilings with wonderful molding, and a massive balcony. Unfurnished and with little money left to buy much more than the basics, time was not on her side. In one week, Milan would be in full lockdown from COVID and no one would be allowed to leave their homes.

“You know what I did?” J. J. said in an interview, “I surrendered to faith and fate. I gave the house over to my higher self, my creative self, and the part of me that believes intrinsically that all will be well and that I am capable of anything when I follow my heart.” Her spiritual calling out to the Universe was heard—and the universe answered. With the untiring help of her friend, vintage-store owner Raimondo Garau, she struck treasure: a peacock-blue velvet upholstered Airflex sofa, turn-of-the-century wall sconces of the same era as her building, and even salvaged a 1990s Poliform kitchen from an old signora’s home. As Italy reopened, J. J. was able to complete her dream home, which blossomed “like a rose garden.” As she observed, “It just requires the spark within us to light up the night like dynamite.”

La Double J’s palette is inspired by the colors of northern Italy—terracotta, burnt umber, cerulean blue, and the patterns are bold and beautiful.

As if the time-intensive project was not enough, she established during the lockdown, via Zoom calls, a new business, La Double J, a multi-tiered company of original fashion for women and home, for the woman who is fearless when it comes to color, patterns, and style, and believes luxury and elegance need not be understated but rather, embraced with panache. La Double J’s palette is inspired by the colors of northern Italy—terracotta, burnt umber, cerulean blue, and the patterns are bold and beautiful. Made entirely in Italy, the homeware line, “The Top Table,” includes tablecloths, Murano glass, dinner service, vases, trays, kitchenware, and candles. J. J. parlays her communion of color to a bolder plane, showing clients “How to zhuzh up your white tablecloth or al fresco dining table in ten seconds flat” with any one of the vibrant tablecloths offered in her original designs. For the bedroom J. J. has designed colorful, cheerful, duvets, shams and sheet sets; and for the living room throw pillows and decorative accessories.

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